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Minister tells Scots to 'cheer up' over broadband funds

The Scottish government has been told by Westminster to be more "upbeat" instead of complaining that Scotland's broadband funding allocation is not nearly enough to ensure a proper rollout.When Scotland was allocated £68.

The Scottish government has been told by Westminster to be more "upbeat" instead of complaining that Scotland's broadband funding allocation is not nearly enough to ensure a proper rollout.

When Scotland was allocated £68.8 million from the £530 million Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund last week, Scottish infrastructure secretary Alex Neil pointed out that delivering next-generation broadband to the Highlands and Islands region alone would cost £300 million.

However, the Press Association reported on Sunday that Westminster's Scottish secretary, Michael Moore, had accused Neil and the Scottish government of being ungrateful.

"The Scottish Government needs to be more upbeat," Moore said. "It takes a rather sour outlook to turn nearly £70 million into a setback. Cheer up for goodness' sake and get on with delivering the improvements to our rural communities."

Moore said that, "instead of looking for the negative", the Scottish government should "step up and meet the challenge of matching UK government investment in broadband for our rural communities".

"If they do that, we can move towards achieving the target of 90 percent of Scottish premises having super-fast broadband — and everyone having access to at least 2Mbps — by 2015," Moore added.

Responding to Moore's suggestion that the Scottish government would be "failing Scotland's rural communities and businesses" if it did not invest, Neil pointed out that, given the tricky geography and population distribution of Scotland, even matching Westminster's funding would fall well short of the cash needed to address the country properly.

"We do find it funny that Mr Moore, as Secretary of State for Scotland, appears unaware that this funding allocation doesn't reflect the fact that Scotland has a third of the UK landmass and some of the most remote areas in these islands," Neil is quoted as saying.